Newsquest Media Group Ltd is the second largest publisher of regional and local newspapers in the United Kingdom. It has 205 brands across the UK, publishing online and in print and reaches 28 million visitors a month online and 6.5 million readers a week in print.
When the landlord on Newsquest’s preferred office relocation option reneged on the deal it had agreed at the eleventh hour, the importance of having a risk management strategy in place was immediately apparent.
Faced with the imminent expiry of its existing office lease at Harmsworth House in London’s Midtown district, and no chance of remaining in situ because Newsquest’s existing landlord had already pre-leased the space at expiry to another and larger tenant in the building, the situation probably looked bleak to the uninitiated.
However, because McCalmont-Woods had previously identified a suitable Plan B property option at the outset of the relocation process, it was able to arrange for the Group’s Executive function to maintain business continuity and relocate to an alternative corporate HQ at Queen’s House, Lincoln’s Inn Fields with a minimum of turbulence, despite having being badly let down on its first-choice relocation option.
This transaction highlights the importance of why corporate occupiers contemplating an office relocation should always have a Plan B to cater for (but not be limited to) the following eventualities:
1. the landlord agrees to progress a deal with another and competing occupier;
2. the landlord seeks to ratchet up the asking terms upon which the accommodation is being marketed;
3. the landlord withdraws the accommodation from the market;
4. the the building is sold to a new owner intent on maximising its asset value (often linked to point 3 above);
4. pre-acquisition due diligence surveys reveal serious defects in the building infrastructure or services;
5. changes in office market supply and demand dynamics dictate a change in real estate strategy, and
6. changes in the occupier’s own business circumstances necessitate a change in real estate strategy.